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Fuel for Thought

According to Bernie Rosenthal, CEO of Reaction Design (San Diego, CA; www.reactiondesign.com), “We are rapidly coming to the point where mainstream engine technology developers and creators realize that the chemistry of the combustion event has a large effect on what goes on in the engine, and what comes out of the tailpipe.” Reaction Design currently markets two main software suites—Chemkin 4.1, which visualizes the chemical reactions and compares them to parameters of interest (ignition time, flame stability, particulate formation, etc.) and Kinetics, which adds flow and mixing effects through the addition of a CFD component—and is adding Gamma Technologies’ (Westmont, IL; www.gtisoft.com) GTPower powertrain simulation program to create a model of the powertrain from the engine to the tailpipe.

According to Bernie Rosenthal, CEO of Reaction Design (San Diego, CA; www.reactiondesign.com), “We are rapidly coming to the point where mainstream engine technology developers and creators realize that the chemistry of the combustion event has a large effect on what goes on in the engine, and what comes out of the tailpipe.” Reaction Design currently markets two main software suites—Chemkin 4.1, which visualizes the chemical reactions and compares them to parameters of interest (ignition time, flame stability, particulate formation, etc.) and Kinetics, which adds flow and mixing effects through the addition of a CFD component—and is adding Gamma Technologies’ (Westmont, IL; www.gtisoft.com) GTPower powertrain simulation program to create a model of the powertrain from the engine to the tailpipe. Why is this important? Money. “Some of our partners in France and Japan perform 10 to 20 tests on each engine family, including any major variations,” says Rosenthal, “in order to understand the emissions profile at an average cost of $150,000 per test. They tell us they can eliminate about 1/3 of that testing just by being able to predict what is going on in the combustion chamber. Applied over the global auto industry, that works out to almost $200 million each year.”

The company also is involved in the Model Fuels Consortium (MFC) to create computer representations of the chemical components found in fuels in order to allow members to design cleaner, more fuel efficient engines in the future. “The simulation consists of five simplified surrogate compounds that represent the thousands of chemicals found in modern fuels,” says Rosenthal. Currently, the MFC’s main task is to comprehensively validate these surrogates against experimental data, create new tools to analyze the models, and create an automated reduction of them. “They are so complex,” says Rosenthal, “that they can choke a supercomputer, and the model is still too big to allow most people to do optimization with it on a regular basis.” A database is under construction to let members see that the model is verified, certified, and use it with confidence in simulations covering a number of conditions, temperatures, and combinations. When completed, it will be made available to engine designers as well as fuel companies so they can create proprietary models of their own from this base. Current members of the MFC include Ford, Conoco-Phillips, Cummins, Honda, Mazda, Chevron, Dow Chemical, Toyota, PSA Peugeot Citroën, L’Institut Français du Pétrole, Mitsubishi, and Nissan.—CAS